By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
12 February 2014
A civil rights campaigner, who lodged a formal demand for an electronic voters roll from the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Rita Makarau, has said the register should be a public document and not a preserve for a select few.
Constitutional lawyer Justice Mavedzenge told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday that if Zimbabwe is to be a functional democracy, such documents should be made available for inspection at any time. He gave Makarau a week to comply, after which he will approach the Constitutional Court if she fails to supply the document.
‘Under the new constitution, voter registration is an ongoing exercise, so I’m saying if they don’t have last year’s voters roll, surely they can avail the latest one compiled from July last year,’ Mavedzenge said.
The main opposition party, the MDC-T, accuses President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party of committing ‘monumental fraud’ in last year’s vote, in part through a massively flawed voters’ register that remains impossible to find.
Since the disputed polls ZEC, and the Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede, have failed to make public the electronic copy of the voters roll that was used, as is required in law. Late last year, when ZAPU leader Dumiso Dabengwa demanded the copy of the roll, Makarau told him there would not be an electronic copy anytime soon.
Mavedzenge said it is for this reason that he’s prepared to go all way to the Constitutional Court if Justice Makarau fails to comply with his demand. In his letter that he sent to ZEC, Mavedzenge said he had every right to access the roll based on Section 62 of the Constitution.
‘I’m quite aware that previous applications on the voters roll and conduct of elections have been dismissed on a technicality, but with due respect to all those concerned, the merit of the issues brought before the court were never discussed,’ he said.
The electoral law in Zimbabwe is clear that all political parties should have access to the list of registered voters in good time before an election, and in both electronic and hard copy.
This is meant to ensure that parties can check the list in advance for any problems, but 7 months after the election ‘won’ by ZANU PF, nobody outside Mugabe’s inner circle has seen an electronic copy of the voters roll.